My 6th-grade son is really smart. I would say brilliant, but you’d accuse me of being one of those deluded parents who thinks their kid is better than everyone else. And I can appreciate that. But he’s really smart. He’s so smart, that my wife and i have taken a lot of his academic progress for granted over the course of his schooling thus far. With rare exception, he’s never come home with a bad (or even mediocre) grade on a test. He’s even received perfect scores on some of the standardized tests that are given to kids in elementary schools. Once, he even got to go to the School Board to be honored for this achievement. He’s really smart. Gets it from my Father, who is the most brilliant man I know.
Must have skipped a generation.
If you were to ask my son what his favorite school subject is, he would answer, “Math.” He likes math. He’s not just good at it, he likes it. I’m sure the fact that he’s good at it contributes to his affinity for it, but not all of us like what we’re good at, right?
Then there’s my 2nd-grade daughter. She’s intelligent. But her gifts, abilities, and likes fall more on the creative side of things. She likes to draw, color, dance, and sing. She’s pretty artistic. And she really doesn’t care for the academic stuff at all. If you ask her what her favorite subject at school is, she will give you three answers.
Snack. Lunch. Recess.
She may have inherited that from me.
We have to work harder with her to affirm and reinforce the importance of doing your homework, taking your time with your studies, and caring about the finished product (or answers). Take, for example, a recent math test she took which had the following question on it: How many days in a week?
Doesn’t look like we’re headed to the School Board again anytime soon.
21 days in a week, eh little one? We had to have a serious talk with her about taking her math tests seriously and using her brain before writing an answer down. It’s completely silly to get such a simple question wrong when all she had to do was count up the days using her fingers.
But it did get me thinking…
What if there really were 21 days in a week and not just 7?
- Talk about a long week. You think the weekend can get crazy and out-of-hand now? What if, when a weekend ended, we all had to wait 21 days for the next one? Not only would it make the work week almost insufferable for most people, by the time the weekend rolled around, most people would probably hurt themselves letting out all of their pent up party cravings. Either that, or people would just start partying mid-week. Which would lead to…
- Hump days (oh stop it). Forget hump day (Wednesday). It would take the entire middle seven days to get over the hump.
- 21 days in a week would also triple the amount of days in a month and in a year, would it not? I only bring this up because under this system, I would not be turning 40 in 2 months, I would be just into my first year as a teenager. And…
- Pregnancies would only be three months long, ladies. Which is still the same amount of days. But 3 is less than 9 and that’s got to help at least psychologically, right? (cue the anger from women who have been pregnant and are incensed that I would even begin to imagine what it’s like. I’m sorry)
Regardless, I bring all of this up to point out that I was reminded that each of my children is unique and requires a different style of parenting. This necessitates extra thought, preparation, and work which can be frustrating and/or discouraging. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out with one child, another one comes along that completely rearranges your categories and understanding. One child is naturally academic, another is predominantly artistic. I can’t raise them both the same way. Well, I can try, but it just won’t work. Both of us will end up frustrated. Or worse.
So, for my daughter, this means encouraging her creative side while still finding ways to motivate her to learn what she needs to learn in other areas. I have to poke and prod and incentivize a little more. She’s got the potential in her. It just doesn’t come naturally. She’d much rather color a calendar with the days of the week listed than tell you how many there are. Part of my responsibility is to raise her in the way that she was created to go. I have to attempt to draw that out of her while at the same time helping her see that there are other lessons she must learn as well. Lessons she needs. Lessons I must lead her to discover.
Because it won’t be too long until she goes from 7 to 21.